July 2, 2008


If the plural of vertebra is vertebrae, why is the plural of zebra not zebrae?

Sriram wants to know your answers!


Keshi said...

The same reason why the plural of

--Man ISN'T Mans
--Deer IS Deer
--Ox IS Oxen
--Foot IS Feet
--Alumna ISN'T Alumnas
--Fungus IS Fungi
--Mother In Law IS Mothers In Law

Some English words are derived from various other languages such as Greek, Latin n French. I think the 'ae' plurals hv a Greek origin ie: plural of formula being formulae (Greek word). And Zebra being an original English word, the plural of it ends in with an 's'. Just my logic. :)


Solitaire said...

I think its something to do with the bra that iceman was talking about a few days ago.

Keshi said...

lol I thought abt it too Sol but it became simply impossible to link it to this qn!


Chakoli said...

English is crap language use Hinglish dear....would benefit:-))

This one my father used to say...

Why is not papa ki patni papi??

Soham Shah said...


Great logic .. And i think somewhat you are correct ..

English is a funny language .. we all know that ..


Why on this earth, do u like BRA so much ??

Solitaire said...

@ Soham,

Actually that is a question that I would like to ask the people who pose such questions.

Solitaire said...

@ Keshi,

Do you also like bras a lot considering you thought about the same thing?

(Question that Soham asked me)

Shruti said...

He who made the language was wicked! Hence.. hence..
Hey.. should the past tense of 'mind' not be 'mound'? :P

Ghost Particle said...

oh we can call it whatever we want. I like to call the zebra crossing ...'dude lets ride the zebra' and a real zebra ' what the fck is that zebra doing near a lion!'

guess that didnt answer the plural tingy doesn't it... hmmm..

Sriram said...

Hey lets treat this a little lighter, as in not to go into roots of the language and stuff which many of us know.

Hm... and talkin about bra, why not brae ;)

Ankur said...

yaar... i m not that learned... have sent a mail to a PHD in english frnd, so waiting for her reply!!!

btw.. as per logic, i second Keshi!!! :)


SMM said...

Guess the reason lies in the same inexplicable fact that A in 'TAIL' and A in "WALL" sound different;

Or that plural of tooth is teeth but booth is not beeth;

Or that 'Cut' does not become cutted;

Or that writers write but fingers don't fing;

Or noses run and feet smell.

Hope that added some more confusion btw :P

Aneesh said...

The plural of Zebra is Zobrani :)


rayshma said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nirmal said...

sol u want to know why we love BRA...


Nirmal said...

a tall man once said
" english is a phunny language"..

i believe that..


Vrij said...

Nice question.. Maybe we should get Arjun Singh to answer this since he said that Englis is a phunny language.

Also, maybe bcoz asking someone 'wat is the size of ur brae?' does not sound all that poetic? ;)

RADhika said...

becasue, "English is a phunny language!".. anything can happen!

D said...

For the same reason that P-U-T is put and B-U-T is but.

Solitaire said...

@ Vrij,

Where art thou and thy brae...

Hehehe..sounds VERY poetic na?

Solitaire said...

@ Nirmal,

Actually Soham wants to know more.

ceedy said...

No comment for this.

As most have commnented and agreed English is a funny language just want to share an interesting observation by George Bernard Shaw. According to him the spelling for FISH is as follows:
GH as in laugh
O women
TI as in motion....

Solitaire said...

@ Ceedy,

WOW! Thanks for sharing this!

Ankur said...

and u know y, coz its an object, in the case of living beings, we never end the plural with a S in the end!!!

may be coz we have asses!!! :P

but u can think of any living being, except trees coz we dont consider them in it!!! :)

Solitaire said...

@ Ankur,

You say we never have plurals with S in the end when it comes to living beings?



What are you talking about?

Ankur said...

oh yes... we do have!!!

i m out of my mind it seems as of now!!! :(

Ankur said...

but there arent many as Keshi said!!!

Solitaire said...

@ Ankur,

There are not many?????????? Are you kidding me?

Take every single animal on this planet but deer and sheep (even fish can be called fishes).

Or is that not enough for you?

Ankur said...

fish ends with es not just s!! :D

and many are...

man ka men
woman ka women

they are found the most on this planet!!! :D
many nahi hai kya?? :D

Ria said...

everything doesnt sound good ending with an 'e' so it has to b zebras!!

Sutta said...

Your versions of questions were tons better Sneha. Trust me! :|

Btw, you know whatttt?
I missed meeting Aamir today. :((
Met Imran and Genelia. Aamir again escaped. :((

Keshi said...

haha Aneesh @Zobrani!

How abt Zebri? or Zebren?


Keshi said...

tnxx Soham!

**Why on this earth, do u like BRA so much ??

I thought this was Sriram's qn. Not Sol's!


Keshi said...

G'day Sol :)

**Do you also like bras a lot considering you thought about the same thing?

I do. Cos w.o. the Bra on it wud be very difficult to ride a ZeBRA some day!


Keshi said...

ok now an illogical ans:

**If the plural of vertebra is vertebrae, why is the plural of zebra not zebrae?

Cos more than one Zebra wud look super hot in Bras!


Iceman said...

Did anyone say bar & zebra?

Solitaire said...

@ Sutta,

WHAT!!!! Are you kidding me? Please don't tell me these things. I feel like crying! :(

Anyway, thanks for the compliment.

Solitaire said...

@ Iceman,

We said BRA...I dunno about bar.

But we did think of you when zebra was said.

Solitaire said...

@ Keshi,

Thanks for the defense. :)

Solitaire said...

I guess Sriram is not coming to give you back his retorts so I am going to ask you folks another question.

I hope he comes soon!

Thanks for your responses!

Iceman said...

Damn I am so stoned that I typed Bar instead of Bra...


Sriram said...

@keshi: hehe... zebren is the future!

Sriram said...

@aneesh: rofl.. uncyclopedia is God!

@smm: hm.. I 'finged' him, would have to mean, 'I gave him the figner' :p

@nirmal: or did he mean p(h)unny? ;)

@vrij: "Pray, what may be the size of your brae?" how about that for some rhyme?

@ceedy: wow... awesome!

@ankur: Ass --> 'Assi'

@sutta: i know.. this qn sucks ass! I was plain bored and didnt have anything to comment on the previous post, so wrote the first thing that came to my mind, but sol took it rather seriously :)

@sol: Well here i am.. blame it on erratic broadband services!

Solitaire said...

@ Sriram,

I take all comments seriously! Why do you think I take the time out to reply to everyone of them? You are not doing that!

Solitaire said...

@ Keshi,

Your logic is good!

Solitaire said...

@ Chakoli,

Hahah!! Imagine saying main papa aur paapi ke saath bahar gayi thi!

Solitaire said...

@ Shruti,

Likewise, should not the past tense of stand be standed?

Solitaire said...

@ Ghost,

I am convinced you are on drugs.

Solitaire said...

@ Ankur,

Has the reply from your friend come? i guess this question might have puzzled her so much that she will go back to her bachelor's degree again.

Solitaire said...

@ Smm,

Good ones! just like the past of shake is shook but the past of make is made!

Solitaire said...

@ Aneesh,

You must publish this and sell it in bookstores!

Solitaire said...

@ Radhika,

Aren't they all?

Solitaire said...

@ D,

Now explain the reason pls.

Solitaire said...

@ ankur,

I have no idea what you are talking about. First you say there are not many and then you say there are many! Make up your mind!!

Solitaire said...

@ Ria,

Why not????????
All the marathi surnames end with e

Moghe, Dighe, Phule...etc!

They all sound good to me!

Ankur said...

how did u know... kahin tu hi meri woh dost toh nahi na!!! :D

she is puzzled, she says, its nonsense!!! :P

Ankur said...

she says... Ankur, stop pulling my leg, i am a doctor (Phd) but not for this!!! :P

Ghost Particle said...

drug n booze also

Ankur said...

Sneha u r embracing me more!! :D

plzzz bhool ja, galti se hua yaar!!! :(

Aneesh said...

keshi, sreeram thanks.

sol, Yah, i'll try to publish a book on both Zobrani and bra wearing Zebra, may be skirt too :)

Aneesh said...

"Hm... and talkin about bra, why not brae "

You sounds like cow, not zebra

Stupidosaur said...

Actually its well considered decision of the linguists, based on the age and capacity of the students to which they intend the word to be introduced for the first time.

Zebra is introduced in kindergarten or at least lower grades of primary schooling

"OK Kiddos, repeat after me...Z for Zebra"

And next they teach plurals based on the words the kiddos already know. And inspite of whatever nonsense Ankur may believe,one of the most widespread rules of English plurals is "Just add s."

Since the kiddos are to be taught the general rules first, and since they already know 'Zebra', the linguists decided to make the plural of Zebra by simply adding an s.

"OK kiddos, look at the pictures and repeat after me..One Zebra...Ten Zebras.."

And if some 'advanced' kiddo tries using 'ae' he gets the rebuke
"Ae! Its not Ae!"

Later on, eg. in graduate and pre-graduate courses based on Biology, 'Vertebra' is introduced to the kids. And since linguists, just like any other humans, are sadists who prefer to make their domain seem esoteric to other 'inferior people', they decided to mess up the aspiring youngsters' mind by putting their foot down "Plural of Vertebra is vertebrae! So there! Go figure"

And Keshi, the plural may not necessarily be based on Greek. Its perhaps Hindi in origin ;)
Genda (rhino) - Gendae
Chuha (mouse) - Chuhae
Gadha (donkey)- Gadhae

(Oh wait, you dont know hindi do you? :( )

And while we are talking about the oddities of English, as well as referring to school days, I was reminded of a poem we had in school
"Why English is so hard"

I found it on the net

P.S: Sol, what grade/marks for this dissertation?

g-man said...

oh the same reason why the plural of tooth is teeth and yet the plural of phone booth isn't phone beeth

AmitL said...

As AB said in his famous dialogue- Engish is a berry phunny language.

Further to Keshi's list:
If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth beeth

If Dad is Pop, how come Mom isn't Mop

If the plural of "ox" is "oxen," why isn't "foxen" the plural of "fox" and "Boxen" the plural of "box"?

Plural of Mouse is Mice,but house is not hice.

And so on and so forth.

Raghu Iyer said...

zebra or zebrae...pronounced how? zeb'ra or zee'braa...so zeebrae...but may be the stripes on the zebra can be good for bra...

is zebra related to alzebra...dimaag ki batthi jalaao praaniyon...zebra ek praani hai..uska plural pathaa nahi hai...